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France: Violence Continues To Intensify Over Shooting Of 17-year-old; All That We Know So Far

Disobeying government's appeals for calm and and assurance of order to be restored, the riotous protesters set cars and garbages on fire on the streets of the Paris suburb of Nanterre.

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Cars set on fire as protest erupts in France over killing of a teenager
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Amid the ongoing violence in connection to the death of a 17-year due to police shooting, France witnessed another fresh round of violence and urban rioting on Thursday night where tens of thousands of officers hit the streets and commuters rushed to home before transport services closed down in a bid to ensure safety.

Disobeying government's appeals for calm and and assurance of order to be restored, the riotous protesters set cars and garbages on fire on the streets of the Paris suburb of Nanterre.

Over 100 protesters have been arrested so far, as per media reports.

Earlier, there was a peaceful afternoon march in honour of the deceased teen identified only by his first name, Nahel.

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The shooting captured on video shocked the country and triggerd  tensions between police and young people in housing projects and other disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

The teenager's family and their lawyers haven't said the police shooting was race-related and they didn't release his surname or details about him.

Violence intensifying in France

Despite beefed-up security measures on Wednesday night, violence erupted once again after dusk with protesters shooting fireworks and hurling stones at police in Nanterre, who fired repeated volleys of tear gas.

As demonstrations spread to other towns, police and firefighters struggled to contain protesters and extinguish numerous blazes.

According to a spokesperson for the national police, schools, police stations, town halls and other public buildings were damaged from Toulouse in the south to Lille in the north, with most of the damage in the Paris suburbs.

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Fire engulfed the town hall in the the Paris suburb of L'Ile-Saint-Denis which is in proximity of the country's national stadium and the headquarters of the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Officials said that 170 officers had been injured in the unrest but none of the injuries was life-threatening.

At least 90 public buildings have been reported to be vandalized.

The number of civilians injured was not immediately released.

40,000 police deployed

Taking a massive step towards restoring order, France's government said it would deploy 40,000 police officers and take a zero-tolerance approach in neighbourhoods where buildings and vehicles were torched. 

According to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, "Policing will be more than quadrupled — from 9,000 officers to 40,000. In the Paris region alone, the number of officers deployed will more than double to 5,000."

“The professionals of disorder must go home,” Darmanin said. While there's no need yet to declare a state of emergency — a measure taken to quell weeks of rioting in 2005 — he added:

“The state's response will be extremely firm”, said the minister

Transport affected, curfew imposed

In light of the turbulent situation, bus and tram services in the Paris area were shutting down before sunset  as a precaution to safeguard transportation workers and passengers.

“Our transports are not targets for thugs and vandals!” Valerie Pecresse, head of the Paris region tweeted.

The town of Clamart, home to 54,000 people in the French capital's southwest suburbs, said it was taking the extraordinary step of putting an overnight curfew in place from 9 pm until 6 am through to Monday.

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It cited “the risk of new public order disturbances” for the decision, after two nights of urban unrest. “Clamart is a safe and calm town, we are determined that it stay that way,” it said.

Investigation and legal actions taken so far

Following the incident, the police officer accused of pulling the trigger was handed a preliminary charge of voluntary homicide.

According to the Nanterre prosecutor Pascal Prache, his initial investigation led him to conclude “the conditions for the legal use of the weapon were not met".

Prache also later added that officers tried to stop Nahel because he looked so young and was driving a Mercedes with Polish license plates in a bus lane.

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He ran a red light to avoid being stopped then got stuck in traffic. Both officers involved said they drew their guns to prevent him from fleeing.

The officer who fired a single shot said he feared he and his colleague or someone else could be hit by the car, according to Prache.

The officers said they felt “threatened” as the car drove off.

Two magistrates are leading the investigation, Prache said.

Under French law, which differs from the U.S. and British legal systems, magistrates often lead investigations.

The police officer has been placed in provisional detention, according to the prosecutor's office.

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Steps taken by the government

In  a bid to tale a stock of the situation, French President Emmanuel Macron held an emergency security meeting on Thursday.

“These acts are totally unjustifiable,” Macron said at the beginning of the meeting, which aimed at securing hot spots and planning for the coming days “so full peace can return.”

Macron also said it was time for “remembrance and respect” as Nahel's mother called for a silent march Thursday that drew a large crowd to Nelson Mandela Square, where he was killed.

Government officials condemned the killing and sought to distance themselves from the police officer's actions.

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Videos of the shooting shared online show two police officers leaning into the driver-side window of a yellow car before the vehicle pulls away as one officer fires into the window.

The videos show the car later crashed into a post nearby.

The driver died at the scene, the prosecutor's office said.

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